Case Closed on the Missing Socks: All of Them!

As published in The Rye Record on April 5, 2013


There are many baffling questions we ask again and again, hoping that maybe in the afterlife their answers will be revealed to us. Why are we here? Why can’t time fly when we’re not having fun? Where did my waist go? And, of course, there is the eternal question of the missing socks. Where, oh where, do they go? Well somebody ring a bell, because I have the answer: They’re all at my house.

There was a time when socks in my house were found in a sock drawer, in a hamper, or on a pair of feet. Then I had children. There are now socks in every corner of my house. They are under couches, mixed in with toys, and hanging off the fireplace grate. They are strewn on the stairs, as if someone was running from a burning house and had to strip off their socks in order to speed their escape.

I recently said to my reclining children, “I’m going to clean up this room, and I’m going to charge you a dollar for every sock I find.” They replied in unison: “Nyeh.” Nyeh is a response I get a lot. I believe it means, “Whatever you want Mom, but could you please zip it while SpongeBob’s talking?” So I began to collect socks, counting out loud as I went. I made $18 that day.

When I’ve collected and washed them all, they amount to a staggering pile of needing-to-be-matched socks. We are a family of ten feet. I, for one, go through no more than one pair a day, mainly on principle. My husband ranges between one and two. But the others — they don’t exercise such self-control. It seems they need different socks for every activity, and if they make a sock-footed trip outside, they need a fresh pair upon their return. My kids take many sock-footed trips outside each day.

It is not difficult to personify the sock pile. Mine actually has a pulse. It is a living, breathing, growing entity capable of doing anything but matching its own kind. Each week, the Nike and Under Armour socks seem to be breeding and spawning a new race of socks that I have never seen before. There are argyle socks, Adidas socks, and even pink socks in my pile. It’s like Studio 54 in there.

Which brings me to my big news: your missing socks are at my house. The trampoline is primarily to blame. Every child that comes to my house takes off his shoes and runs out to the trampoline in sock feet. The mud immediately renders those socks squishy, and they are discarded like confetti all over my backyard. It’s actually quite whimsical the way they dangle from the shrubs. The child leaves with just his shoes, deciding he would rather ride bareback than touch those muddy socks again. In this way, my sock inventory has risen by two every day for eight years.

The good news is that I don’t buy socks anymore. The sock supply happily replenishes itself. But the sorting of the socks can be soul-crushing. I imagine my parents sending me off to college and hoping that my life would amount to some higher purpose than this. The black dress socks in particular could make you go blind, holding them up to divine each mate. Some have gold toes, some have wider ribs, some are longer than others. Each time, I wonder: who would ever know if my husband’s socks did not match? Who would even know if he was wearing rainbow tube socks under his suit?

Like Cinderella, I dream of a way out. I dream of a day when I take one (maybe several) large garbage bags and throw out every single sock in my house. Then I go to the mythical Sock Emporium and buy multiple pairs of identical socks for each member of my family. There would be no matching — just five baskets of a single type of sock each. Freedom! Like Cinderella, I do not act. I’m waiting for someone to rescue me.

In the meantime, if you want your socks back, you can come get them. But be warned: they could be anywhere.